Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bittermelon: bitter is better

If there is a poll on veggie popularity, I bet bitter melon will come out to be the least favorite. It may be the first vegetable to be voted out. I don't blame you, what with its bitter taste, who would dare eat this veggie anyway? But Bitter melon, considered the most bitter among all edible vegetables , is an excellent source of Vitamin C. It is fat free, saturated fat free, cholesterol free and sodium free. Bitter melon, also known as Balsam Pear, Balsamina (Spanish), ku gua or foo gwa (Chinese), and Assorossie (French) and Ampalaya (Filipino)  grows in tropical and subtropical climates . It is a very popular vegetable in the Philippines.  I remember when I was growing up, my dad would always eat ampalaya. He would consume it in almost its raw form by just steaming it (on top of the rice), dip it in Bagoong Isda (anchovy sauce)  and eat it with steaming rice ,while I looked in amazement. He liked it so much and I remember him saying that the more bitter it tastes, the better. 

I believe it's an acquired taste. It took me quite a while to acquire the taste for it. Everytime I consume it , I think of the nutrients that this veggie has to offer. 
According to, bitter melon  is said to have a therapeutic effect on people who have diabetes as consumption of this vegetable may decrease blood sugar and insulin levels. Not that I have a diabetes, but it pays to know that this veggie helps, right?

How do you select a bitter melon? In selecting a bitter melon, choose firm, unblemished ones that are from 5 to 12 inches in length. If you desire for a strong bitter taste, choose the ones that are still green and a yellow-orange melon for a milder taste. 

Bitter melon can be kept for 3 to 5 days in the fridge so long as it is stored loose in a a paper or plastic bag.  

There you go folks. I hope you will try bitter melon or ampalaya dish next time. 

by: Charina Vergara


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